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Kildare Castle

Date: 04-20-12
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 1

The King and the Witch

Leo had been distracted a lot recently. Something that pulled at him from his very soul, yet he could not connect anything definite to it. It would not be denied however. Who was Savina? A Witch? An Old Woman? A Wise Woman? A Young Woman or ageless somehow. There was one thing certain: Savina was far more than she allowed others to see. Most others. She knew he had seen glimpses of her. She knew he had his own powers even if they differed or did they? There were times he sensed her, sometimes an elusive scent such as a perfume but far more pure like only fresh flowers could produce. Had the scent been of lilacs he would wonder if she was really dead and her appearances only a mirage here on this earth to interfere where she was allowed. It was more than all these curious questions that drew him. That was the odd part for certainly there were many beautiful women about the kingdom vying for his attention or even a look their way. Once Gaidan and Corina returned with their newborn child, he took a walk that would lead him far from the castle. His guards followed but eventually there was no king to find. This didn't happen often but his immediate kingsmen knew of his capabilities. They had to. They would wait where they last saw him for that would be where he would appeared again. This day it was to the north of Swan Lake Estates he would venture, unseen by most and sometimes disguised as a woodland animal. Perhaps that White Stag the Mullen clan was so afraid of but yet not one they would ever harm or some great evil would befall them.

They were a warrior clan. The Mullens, living in years of fear when the Witch ruled the lands along with her minions. Many died. Many loved ones were buried in Kildare's soil. They had come just after the King had been killed so had no idea of Seamus McLarkin nor his rule. Few knew much about them. They had been driven down from the wild lands to survive only to continue that life of survival in the northwestern hills of Kildare. They remained secluded to their mountains that no one else would live under such conditions they were use to. They grew in size. Others of their clan came to join them. Now they felt threatened by lands they knew little about other than they had been taken over by someone else. They needed to expand which was what drove them now. Leo, as the White Stag, had started across the stretch of river in one of the shallow areas. He was being watched with great suspicion and restraint. Fear and awe mixed. The embankment at the foot of the hills was reached but the onlookers would watch as the white stag disappeared before their eyes. Silver swirls invaded his vision and drew him across the astral nether to woods on a far southern side of west Kildare. He was a shimmering white-gold haze that blended in with newly green sprouts and white blossoms of spring foliage.

The small fire contained by the rock circle flickered and crackled just outside the cavern opening. Savina squatted beside it, the excess of her skirt's material streamed behind her so that she could see the work at hand. A long-handled cup extended into the flames, and within it, the ore of silver melted in a puddle from the heat. Far better outside than in on a day such as today when the fresh breeze cleansed and the sun warmed. Dark strands curled naturally over her shoulders, dangling nearly to the ground at her knees and down her back as she leaned to her work. That playful breeze caught a few wisps and lifted them, tossed them across her face, so that she had to use her balancing hand to sweep them away from her vision. The motion of her hand to swirl the liquid silver slowed and, though she kept her head bowed to her work, her gaze lifted and scanned the trees below her. She started to react, from the times of old when the mere thought that she may not be alone would fill her with fear...but those days were done, gone, over...thanks to the royals of Kildare. She stood slowly, placing her work aside on a nearby table of rock, then closed her eyes. The dark of her hair began to streak with gray, then white snaked through the curls as she gathered the thick mass in her hands and pulled it behind her head. Lines of age, of years spent surviving, creased her brow, drew down along the corners of her lips, forked out from her eyes. She had not yet, though, found a means to dull the coloring of her eyes or to mar the wisdom, understanding or truth there. Then, she sucked in a soft gasp, her eyes opening immediately and once again passing in an almost frantic search down below her precipice, this ledge which served as the opening to her cave dwelling.

Savina used another thick strand of hair to wrap around the others, tying the heavy mass back as she edged toward the end of the ledge in order to glance over. She felt it. An arrival. The shift of energy from sedate to pulsating, more than what usually occupied this wooded section of the mountain. Her own pulse quickened with anticipation and her perception extended beyond that of her sight and locked on the source. Unknown and yet, just vaguely familiar. She took a cautionary step back, casting a quick look around her shoulder to mark the distance to the safety of her cavern. Within, once she passed the runes and markings, she would be safe. She perceived no threat, but the intensity of the power could not be ignored. That alone was enough to make her wary. She did not reside along the well-beaten path so whatever force shifted within those trees, was either lost, or knew exactly what they were in search of. Either way. She crooked her spine, gnarled the joints of her fingers, and sent out a message to the glowing energy which managed to stay disguised, even to her. These mountains and those who call them home are under the protection of the Crown of Kildare.

The Mullen clan was forgotten in that immediate instant after his arrival for realizing where he landed. The magnificent white stag stood there a moment as the golden-white haze settled down to a translucent aura about this form. The great head lifted with a stack of eighteen white points, blue eyes searched before he was bounding in an unearthly grace around trees and leaping over brush and fallen logs. White streaks were left in his wake for the speed. He was not any ordinary beast of the wild. There seemed to be a determined destination as he moved across her forest below instead of up to her. It would seem that whatever it was she would instinctively be drawn to, although it made no response to her words attempted on a mental link. So far there was no link allowed. The stag disappeared in and out of her sight for the foliage and density of pines at times. Then it stopped a quarter mile distance from her advantage point above. It stood there, translucent aura pulsating with ethereal energy like heat rising from a rock on a hot summers' day when evening approached and the temperature dropped. In a fifty yard radius around the White Stag the grass seemed to become greener. Fuller. Buds could be seen on the apple tree branches and the start of leaves. Flowers seem to become more abundant in dotting the ground. The Stag stood here waiting. If the Woman should approach, she'd know that the area was enchanted. Would she dare? The power of the White Stag would have most running away fearful of the unknown even if in awe.

How could she not be intrigued? She was the mistress of spells, of enchantment, of magic and when her words floated back to her, untouched and unanswered rather than possessing the intention of the interloper, she wrapped her cloak tighter around her and chanced a return to the ledge. What she saw from there had her suck in a quick breath of wonder. She was no novice weaver of incantations, no beginner in the ways of her art, she knew too well that evil could and often would possess such a glorious form to lure and ensnare. But when she followed the spectacular transformation of landscape across the distance to the magnificence of that stag, had she been chained in place, she would have found a way to break free in order to approach it. The knotted fingers clamped down tight on the hem of her cloak and, with the object of her intentions set in her mind, she swirled the fabric around in front of her, twisting her body in a spin that in that split second of time created a deep purple spiral of smoke in her place. The woman...was gone. The crone materialized in the soft, green grass fifty yards from the grand creature. Her guise flickered, wavered, and she struggled to keep it in place, only to have the heavy, rich darkness of her hair, the supple smoothness of her skin, the slender length of arms, legs, fingers all take the place of her previously disfigured form. Her posture restored, she faced off against the stag in the purifying dome that it had created. Unable to use her own powers to retreat, she squared her shoulders, lifted her chin. "You dare much."

All would be so bared in front of the great White Stag if approached. Even a distance beyond that mark would test any disguise. Leo watched through blue eyes the same color of his own. Every little nuisance. After her guise melted away under the purifying cast of the area, so did his form melt from Stag to Human. He held out his hands, palms up for her to approach and take. "Indeed I do, dare much. After more than a year of being plagued this needed to be addressed and explored, Savina." She held a power over him not of her own making nor of his but something far greater than them both. He had let the thoughts plague him long enough that proved they were not disappearing but only growing in intensity. The question was, was she as well plagued? Golden streaked hair was drawn back neatly into a tail. He wore the dark blue lighter tunic with the Kildare emblem embroidered upon the soft cloth. The shirt finely made what could be seen of the sleeves. Black pants and boots that were finely tooled. There was no crown upon his head but one was not needed to know this was the King of Kildare.

When the true form of the mighty being replaced that of the stag, Savina blinked, gasped and dropped down into a deep curtsy, her head bowed to the King of Kildare even though he reached out to her. "Forgive me, Sire. I ... failed to recognize you." Would she have spoken with such audacity to the King? She couldn't help but smile to herself that he had come, but that expression was hidden behind the veil of hair that was released when her true form was forced free. She didn't lift her gaze to him, as much as she longed to look over to him, to take in the man who had often distracted her thoughts. He was ... here. She had stolen a glance from afar while he attended the Swan Lake affair, but that was all she allowed herself. This was different. He was ... here. She had learned that all of her skills, all that she knew or could conjure never applied to herself, for herself. Was this man so near to her in her mind that she couldn't pick up on him? Or was he just that guarded against all? "I would ease you what plagues you, My Liege, but I fear I can not place that which causes you dis'ease." He had mentioned being plagued, but she couldn't very well ask after what plagued him. Questioning so powerful a man would be unthinkable. Perhaps, though, she would be able to help him and in doing so, she could manage more time...for herself.

"There is nothing to forgive. Perhaps this is greater than us both. Perhaps you have the cure." While he spoke he eased forward enough to take her hands in his and draw her up from the curtsey. He stood there, silver blue eyes meeting those of equal blue to hold for what might be considered an eternity. Timeless, being more accurate. "I needed to know the true you. I needed to know why when I look upon a pretty face who is smiling my way, I see that glimpse I had of you that no one else sees. Were you the old woman or were you the young? Do you see my face as well where I am not there? What is this hold you have on me, Savina?" The ache to know had grown to near unbearable and Leo knew it was time to find and face the reason. Only then could he embrace it or dispel it. A King such as he could not remain so distracted and be all that he was meant to be for Kildare.

Battles. Waged. Won. Continuing. And nothing to do with swords but all to do with armor. There, in his gaze as she searched the blue depths, her fingers curling gently to seal the union of his grasp. For that instant, that brief moment, he opened up to her, claimed her heart beat to match his own. Caged hopes of freedom let loose to flutter around inside her stomach. For...and instant. Appreciated though fleeting. "I am who I am no matter my appearance, Leor.." She dipped her head, then looked back up to him. "My Liege. I have never doubted that you..You...have known me far better than any other. But then..." And she smiled up to him. "Not many others have dared the forests to find me...much less to find ... Me." Taking a step closer, she tilted her head further up to study his features. "You are the King of Kildare. Powerful in title and in skill. I do see you. I see ... you." Her soft laughter followed, blending with the breeze that tickled over them. "Of course, unless you are masquerading as a mystical stag. Then...I fail to recognize you but still...I come. It is not my hold over you, My King, but this claim you have over me. I know not how to manage it and yet, I would be empty without it. So I beg pardon my forwardness when I say to you...please do not release me from whatever enchantment that I am so delightfully placed under, even if it would free you."

"Indeed you are but something brought me here to you this day. Something not of your means nor mine but through something else entirely." Such a statement might not make sense to anyone else but it should her. He had not let go of her hands, sealed as they were on another level than mere contact of flesh. He drew her in closer after her step nearer, bringing her up against him and her hands to his back before letting go. One hand up and around to cup the side of her face as a thumb stroke against the soft skin. Eyes keeping hers captured beneath and held. "Leoric," his voice caught coming a bit deeper and lower with her this close. He was wishing her to address him by his name than title. "I know you and yet not. This I wish to remedy if you wish it was well?" So the heart of the matter would be addressed as he'd not beat around the bush. Not with her. The smile that followed touched in his eyes, "it seems that is the form I take when investigating matters on another level. You actually recognized me on another level or you would not have come. This needed to be known as well." He smiled even more with the last as it was an answer to what drew him here in the first place. What drew him to her. "I will not have you as a mistress," to clarify that at the very beginning as many kings filled their bed with no obligations but all the benefits. This was not the man he was raised. "I cannot release you any more than you can release me it seems. We are left with only one option and that is to see where it leads. I wish to get to know you." No matter the draw, he'd not rush her nor himself into a relationship that would eventually have an impact on Kildare on the whole as well. "Would you allow me to court you?" That was the closest word he'd use in what he wished at this point. It held enough in binding but not totally until they were certain.

If she was startled, surprised, disbelieving, completely thrown off her guard with his comments, her expression wouldn't show it. But this was Leoric, he could probably pick up on the fact that she had not expected this particular conversation to take place today. She had been melting silver, for goodness sakes, in the silence and solitude outside of her cavern. She opened her mouth to respond, closed it, swallowed, sniffed out a soft laugh then tried again. "It is a good thing, Sire, that you would not want me as your mistress, for I would not make for a good one." Her hand lifted and flattened over the top of his where he cupped her face, holding it there. She turned just enough to graze the corner of her lips to his thumb. "I would allow you much, Leoric." He had always been her King. Even when he fought for Kildare and had not the title. Even when Keary DeVessey threatened all that was good and peaceful in these lands until Leoric and His twin defeated the witch's wicked plans. Always. Her King. Calling him by his given name would be difficult, but she couldn't deny she liked the sound of it from her lips, the taste of it on her tongue. "And to be so courted by you is something I had never even allowed myself to dream. For I am of the mountain..and you, well, you are the King of Kildare. This is my life. I .... " To be able to know Leoric better, to sit with him, talk with him, spend more time with him. Was it not where her fantasies would take her when she dared allow them to transport her from her solitary existence? Smiling up to him, her lips quivered ever so slightly. "Leoric, I .. am ... frightened."

There was a fire deep in his eyes. One of passions not yet allowed that hinted only of the power of them yet to be released. It would not only take the right woman, it would take one that could meet such a challenge. "Not my mistress, no, but still I wish you in my bed." Straightforward and honest and it was there in his eyes. The touch of her lips against his thumb only fueling it. He had gone without by choice but this was different, this was what he had waited for. The desire and what followed would be all the more. The look eased the moment she spoke on being frightened. "You are of the mountains that are part of Kildare. Can you part with the mountains to be an even greater part of Kildare, to be with me?" Was there something about this connection that might ruin what he hoped for, hoped for them both? This was the very reason he wanted to get to know her. All thought from there vanished as the draw of his eyes came to rest upon her lips. His lips met hers instead with the searing heat of passion he tried to hold back until now. He could not help it at this point. His hand sliding to cup the back of her head for the following onslaught. Perhaps some answers would be found here in such contact.

Savina attempted to take it all in. His confession. His proposal. His aura. His energy. It wasn't until his gaze touched upon her lips that she drew in a soft breath, one that didn't have the opportunity to be released before his kiss replaced his gaze. Never before. Not once. Not ever. And she could not have even imagined the intensity shared with so simple a touch. Lips to lips and every single barrier she had placed up, to the core, evaporated into a mist of oblivion. Not even realizing she had leaned further into that connection, slender hand lifting to rest her palm on his shoulder for support. Had she her wits about her at this moment, she may have realized the position of her hand was probably more to cling to him should he attempt to move away, to break this mind/body/soul release and capture he accomplished so gently, so expertly. Her lashes, thick and dark, had fluttered closed. Ultimately vulnerable, profoundly powerful. All due to this kiss. His kiss.

The kiss lasted a good few minutes in slow exploration, excruciating in a way for the coils of heat it released deep inside corresponding to what was going on in his mind. The kiss was far too short when parted or he'd be wanting far more. Logic hinted that would not be a good idea at the moment. Take it slow, make sure she wanted him as much as he wanted her. He didn't trust his voice at first as eyes opened and he studied her. A loving look there that could not be hidden if he had been aware of it to start and try. A hand lifted to brush away a strand of hair but more to caress. He tried his voice, one that was deeper and huskier for the emotions gained, a very appealing sound. "Would you consider coming back with me to the castle?" It would mean that she had accepted his proposal. More a courting to start for formality sake than anything else.

She actually stood on tiptoe, leaning toward him with her eyes closed as he ended that kiss. The gentle stroke of his hand through her hair lifted her lids, heavy with sultry promise, so that she followed his lips as he spoke. Slowly her gaze lifted to meet his, searching there, losing herself...there. Her lips, already parted from their previous enjoyment, closed so she could swallow, to find her voice. When had she ever not been able to speak? Her hand smoothed along his shoulder, down his chest, to return to her side. A single, faint nod. "Allow me a few days," Her art was no happenstance. There was great power to be gained, to be desired, to be stolen should any manage to get past her barriers and into her dwelling. She would need to fortify. She had been experiencing a tug, a pull, a subtle but present threat to her otherwise secure surroundings. All of which had nothing to do with the man holding her. " prepare?"

He held her gaze and delve there far enough to understand. This was no slight on him but things in her history he had yet to learn about. Just as there would be a lot for her to learn of him, then they would learn and grow together. He saw all this, perhaps out of desire for it to be such. There was always free will to change the course as the future was not written, holding various outcomes based on the choices made each day. Some small, some large. Some could be devastating while others held another kind of high that no artificial means could replicate. "I will seek you in a few days hence." Few meant three or more but not greater than a week. He smiled as his hand moved to cup her cheek and run a thumb over the fullness of her lips. Perhaps he was taking in the simple pleasure of seeing them fuller after his kiss. "I will be thinking of you." Which he had been all along and why so driven to find her, find out why. Now he knew and he'd move mountains to get to her if needed. He'd lay the moon and the stars at her feet. "Swift be your preparations," a touch of his lips to the tip of her nose before stepping away. She would watch him fade right before her eyes leaving a shimmering white gold dust in his wake that disappeared in the next seconds.


Date: 04-28-12
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 2

The Meeting

Leoric spoke with his brother once he and Corina returned from Swan Lake Estates. In the meantime he had taken some time to himself. Time that seemed always elusive to take but he was driven on another level to find answers. Summons were sent out to have certain heads come to this meeting. Not all of the nobles were summoned but those he felt would be directly involved should there be an invasion. The other heads would be sent a sealed letter letting them know of the events should it become necessary. Captain Dewar was also summoned being he was head of the guards that evening of the incident along with his lieutenant, O'Brien. Heads of the noble houses included James Callihan, Gillean Callihan, Niall MacKinlay, Charles Ackerman, Sebastian Dewar and newly arrived Daniel Remmington. The meeting would take place in his den. One that was large enough with an oaken desk near one of the ceiling to floor windows. Windows that gave a fantastic view of Kildare lands, so far that on the one side they could see the port and blue waters beyond.

The summons was sent out early enough that they should arrive by noon time. If necessary they would be staying overnight if the talks needed that length of time. For those who had not been in the castle or not in it since the brothers made their claim, they would find it magnificent with a lot of improvements over the years. Improvements that would continue as the whole of Kildare grew and became more solidly established. A small repast was set up, along with various drinks including alcoholic varieties and nonalcoholic. Meat, cheese, fruit and breads of various choices to appease any taste or appetite. Leo stood by the large fireplace where a few large logs burned. Hands behind his back as he settled into his own thoughts while waiting. As the men arrived, their coats would be seen to and then escorted by one of the royal guards to the Den.

With the message from the King of Kildare awaiting their return, Gillean would not get the opportunity to speak with Caiome or with Dewar. Instead, he and Michael cleaned up and started out again. With his coat collected at the door, the Lord of Swan Lake was delivered to the den where this meeting would take place. He paused a moment to bow to the King and his brother, then when granted permission, fully entered to join the men.

Gaidan stood at one of the windows in the large room, staring outside. He had been glad to return home even if it was to new developments that could threaten war again. He turned as the men began to enter, greeting each after his brother. His face showed the practiced expression of a warrior and revealed nothing. It would be up to his brother to speak and for himself to add to Leoric's words if necessary.

Michael had given orders to Davis before he left, since O'Brien was going with him. . Keep an eye on the Lady who might still be feeling the effects of her fall, and be sure to keep extra men on guard. He knew Davis wouldn't fail and likely Caiome wasn't up to going off on her own but it helped to ease his own mind. Both he and O'Brien, bowed to the King and Regent, then saluted with a fisted hand to chest before following Gillean. Both soldiers helped themselves to the food before the meeting began.

Sebastian Dewar was clear-headed when he arrived at the castle. Away from the drama of his home life, he rarely allowed himself to become lost in the forgetfulness of drink. He was surprised to see his son as he entered the room, but after greeting the Royals, he also greeted his son with a nod.

Daniel Remmington arrived next, none wishing to be late for this meeting. His gaze searched over the others present as he started his bow, then as he straightened he smiled. Impressive lot. No garden party today.

Charles Ackerman arrived with Niall MacKinlay, being fairly close to one another and having become friends over the years since the incident that cleared his name and cleared out Swan Lakes of the English. All was good but now he wondered along with Niall, what disturbances were brewing. They were seen to at the door and brought to the den. Giving due respect to King and Regent before partaking of the respite set out for them. The journey long enough taking most of the morning hours and so were both hungry.

James arrived on the heels of Ackerman and MacKinlay, following them up and catching up by the time they entered the den. A bow with a fisted hand to his chest before he got himself something to eat. A slight uplift of his chin to Gillean in greeting and a slight nod to the others including this Daniel he knew little about. That would change.

Leo turned as they started to enter, hands moving from behind his back to his sides. "I'm pleased you all made it here in a timely fashion. The matter at hand is not an emergency at present but I wish to not have it become an emergency. I am sure a few of you are aware of the incident that happened the night of the ball at the northern tower of Swan Lake Estates. I would ask you, Captain Dewar and your man to give a brief report of what happened that night and if anyone has questions, please present them after they have finished."

Since O'Brien had been the one to bring the matter to the attention of both Captain Dewar and Lord Callihan, he spoke up first. "I was on duty outside of the manor due to the ball that was being held. One of the runners from our outpost to the north, along the border, came to the estate late with a report of skirmishes with men throwing stones, taunting. The man in charge there kept his men from attacking in return. His fear was the attacks would expand and the numbers weren't enough. I spoke to Captain Dewar and Lord Callihan, informing them of the situation, as well as the Duke of Montrose." He looked at Dewar who nodded, then spoke up. "After being informed of the skirmishes, we sent another runner back. The decision was made to send a half squad to the outpost, and more once the ball was over. We had no wish to leave the estate undefended with all our guests. By the time that runner reached the outpost, everything was quiet. The reinforcements arrived a short time later and since then, there have been no attacks but our scouts have reported sightings of men who are watching. They don't always bother to hide their activities."

Gillean listened, his arms crossed over his chest. This was not anything he hadn't heard already so he simply waited in silence.

Daniel had taken a lean of hip against the side of a nearby chair. Since the explanation had yet to be addressed by the King, he said nothing. Just slid his attention from the two guards over the others gathered.

Leo knew a lot more but by means he was not about to divulge presently or possibly never at all. His brother knew. What the report told him was that none of Gillean's men had seen the apparition that night that had set the brush along the other shore on fire. Something that would be seen from a distance and noticeably had any that were taunting them to leave. "I would like you to bring me the runner that night for me to talk to, tomorrow." He took a moment to have a drink in coating his throat before beginning again. "I have information that the ones are from a clan that hides away up in the mountains of what use to be the Witch's domain. Do any of you know of this clan? How big it is, who is in charge or possibly a few chieftains?" He knew they were highlanders just by their attire. He first looked to James.

James spoke up upon that notice. "I'm sorry I can't be of much help for the years I was gone. I have heard there were ones living in the mountains north of us but such talk never implied they were aggressive." Deciding then to let anyone else speak up in case they had more information and go from there. Charles nor Niall didn't seem to know much more than what he was privy to as he noticed them shake their heads.

Sebastian listened and shook his head. He had never heard of this clan nor was aware of them before now. His estate was some distance from the mountains.

Gillean lowered his arms. "Since no one here knows anything about them, it would seem we have some information to gain regarding their ...

His comment was interrupted by Daniel clearing his throat. "They've always been a presence in Kildare...but really haven't made much of an impact on its immediate history." His gaze met each of the others through the room until it rested once more on Leoric. "Moving closer to the lowlanders...places them in a precarious position. A king and court they neither know nor understand. Is it not true or is it just a rumor, that a woman of the old ways also resides in those mountains? If she is not just a figure of folklore, she may be of service to us. Would she not know more than we about this clan?" He reached behind him, bracing himself against that chair with his hands as he crossed his legs at the ankles. "That is...if she is of flesh and blood and not just words of whimsy. I, myself, might enjoy a chance to meet such a woman

Daniel perked his interest as he moved closer to the man. Daniel might just pick up on the fact that Leoric wasn't ordinary, and it wasn't because he was a king. The enchanted sword at his side seem to hum and there was a response from the one that hung from his brother's hip. But it was more than the swords. It was in the ocean blue eyes that held such depths as surely the color represented. "There are such clans, highlanders some refer to them as and they as well. Elusive, keep to themselves unless a reason drives them down from their homes. If they feel threatened they will try to eliminate the threat. Be it of beast or human. Have you met any of them yourself?" He wasn't going to encourage this man on Savina, and the power he sensed coming from the mountain was not of her but of someone else.

Neither Dewar or O'Brien had anything to add so both men, still in an at ease stance, listened to what was being said, watching each man as they spoke.

Daniel, his expression as calm as his mood, so well trained, he shook his head. "Me? No, Sire. I have not met any personally. Just mentioning what I know through the tutoring about Kildare's history when a lad. Since, as you know, I didn't actually live here as a child. "It does make one wonder what it is that they feel threatened by. Does it not? What would cause them to flee what is familiar to be subjected to a strange, new way of life. I do find that to be interestingly worthy of at least Kildare's investigation."

"Indeed it is. Such clans are not open to strangers so it would be a challenge for anyone to get in their good grace and find out more." Which had him keep direct eye contact with Daniel for he seemed the kind to pick up such a challenge. "Do I have any volunteers here that think they could get within the clan without getting themselves killed or have any one of their men or staff that can?" Eye contact remained on Daniel a few seconds more before shifting to the others each in turn. He wasn't trying to single anyone out other than Daniel if he picked up on it, because it might well not be part of their expertise. He was going to need all their help on various levels in this mission. Some might be brought in more later on, as fate dictated.

With the eye contact held, Daniel remained reserved but respectfully at ease. "What of that woman, My King? Do we know if she exists? It was my understanding she is of the chieftain's line, distant, but still. Is it not possible that if she is not just myth, that maybe one of us could persuade her to step in for Kildare?" Daniel smiled, shifting a little in his lean. "But if she is just the stuff of legend, then with such distinguished families present, surely we can pull our forces and find a good man or two to infiltrate for Kildare."

Gillean growled deep in his throat "What woman, Remmington? The only woman I've heard of that held any power like that was DeVessay, and the King and Regent took care of that threat already. Quit speaking of fairytales, we are none of us here interested in learning the myths of Kildare."

Daniel lowered his gaze, rubbing a circle around his forefinger. "I didn't say anything about a threat, Gillean."

There was a long pause as he held eye contact with Daniel again. "The woman exists. She helped us before. Niall met her first," which he took a moment to look the man's way as he nodded. There and back again. This was a bit more information than most knew. "I will ask her." He had not thought of her involvement but it was very possible she knew of this clan. It made sense for she too was of the mountains. "In the meantime, I ask each of you to find out what you can of this clan. Certainly someone has met one of them, hopefully more, that we can piece this together before a war breaks out, possibly, hopefully, preventing it." Which he paused again as he turned on a heel moving away from Daniel back to the fireplace. "Does anyone here have any questions? We should meet again in four days time and see what we have learned. Although, be certain, with any new breakout we may have to go to war. I am preparing my army in that event and you should assign a few runners."

"No questions, your Majesty. As always, my men and my resources are yours." Sebastian's father had withdrawn during the time of darkness, keeping to his own lands but Sebastian had sent men to join the Twins when they came back. He would also see to the runners.

"Four days." Gillean repeated, offering the king a bow. "Until then."

Daniel pushed up from his lean. "Thornston remains at your disposal, My Liege."

For the first time in the hours that passed, there was a smile to touch his lips and even reflected in the pierce of blue eyes. "I think together we will make a formable kingdom." He had wanted them to work together for a reason. Caiome's ball was just the beginning. "I will send a report to the other smaller keeps so that they will be prepared as well. You're welcome to take a look at the castle if you wish, any of the guards will gladly show you around." As he was not chasing them out if they wanted to linger for the ride was long for most of them.

James, Niall and Charles all gave their respectful commitments. James went without saying but was verbalized nonetheless, adding to the others. They would shortly take their leave after seeing some of the renovations since the brothers took the royals seats.

Dewar and O'Brien had remained where they were until Gillean stood, then they moved closer, bowing to the Royals before taking their leave.

When Michael's father passed, he paused and placed a hand briefly on his son's shoulder. He too would take a look at the castle before taking his leave.


Date: 05-08-12
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 3


The rumors that Daniel Remmington of Thornston Keep mentioned at the meeting, kept rolling around in his thoughts as the time came to return to the southern mountains of Kildare. A particular location that housed Savina. In a cave no less. He had asked that she come stay with him at the castle, which he planned to introduce her to his brother, sister in law and all others along with her relationship to him. So far he had not mentioned anything. Not out of disrespect to anyone nor wishing to shock, but more in that they were not at that point yet. Her coming to the castle would set that. He favored the white stag form, which was the one that happened when he transformed. He could cut the distance through trees, brush and brook far easier than on foot or even horse. The grass was getting fuller, as he soundlessly bounded, the sky a clear blue above with various birds on the wing. An Eagle soared. If he took to the air, it would be in Eagle form so he had a rapport with them as well. Nostrils flared as he neared the cave in picking up where Savina might be. He had not quite reached the opening as he stood with his head up, ears perked and scanning the area while still in stag form.

At this time of day, Savina enjoyed the breeze that whisked over the ledge of her precipice. Today was no different. With her beaded charms wrapped down her arms, laced between her fingers, she looked out over the tops of the trees beneath her, watching the canopy sway with the caress of the wind. All that she meant to bring with her to Kildare's castle was rolled carefully to keep it safe and tucked into one bag. Some things so precious or difficult to replace, it was far better to transport them then to attempt to replace them. Each day for three days now, she had brought the bag from the cave and set it to the side of the opening. Each night, until Leoric returned, she brought it back in. And just this once, this once in at least four years, she had taken the form of that white hawk, sleek, silent and swift, and had visited her mother unbeknownst to her father. The reunion was brief, but emotional, and Savina had taken her leave with the understanding between them both that this may be the last the two would speak. For the most part, while Savina lost herself in the movement of new growth of green leaves, this tickled at the back of her mind. "You shall be content and happy, Savinell." Her mother had whispered at their parting, they shared a kiss to each other's cheek, and Nell, or Savinell, as her mother called her stepped back, shifted, and took to the air. Today, she was here, as she enjoyed it, on her ledge, with her bag packed and placed just to the side of the cave's opening.

Leo turned from the cave, transforming into human form, which was his natural one, as he headed for the ledge. It seemed Savina liked to watch over the lands below and this was something he could relate to as well. "The Eagle soars high this day," which was a good omen. Speaking up as he approached so she would not be startled. His voice had a soothing quality to it that hinted upon deeper levels. He came to sit down beside her, for it was far more comfortable to talk here before going back to the busy castle. "Days like these I seek such solitude to reflect," on many levels, day to day things all the way up to reality of life, death and what comes afterwards". Instead of delving into questions that had arisen since they last met, he took the moments to enjoy what nature graced before them. Only after a few minutes would he speak up but not on what played at his thoughts. "The day finds you well my beautiful Savina?" Silver blue eyes turned upon her much like they had been upon the beauty cast by nature before them. If she was becoming attune to this man, she would pick up there was more to be discussed, yet, no hurry.

She looked over to him when he spoke, the happy breeze catching strands of curls and tossing them across her cheek, in front of her vision. She was smiling to him as she raked them away, gathering up the wind-dance of masses to pull them to the side and twisting it into a knot at her shoulder. He sat next to her and their arms touched, she leaning lightly against the strength of the man next to her. "It does find me well. As most days do. And you? How fare you this day, Glorious White One?" The twinkle in her eyes was all that gave away her delight in calling him that, but then she tilted her head slightly, studying him. "And, if I may ask and if you are at liberty to share, what have you need to reflect upon?" There were words, even if unspoken, that lingered between them. The breeze whispered of more. Pasts. Futures. All that in the breath of now. If he would only just speak it.

"The day finds me well, especially now." That smile appearing upon his features reached his eyes. She could guess well why with him looking at her like he was. "There are castle matters. For that matter there will always be castle matters. The matter at hand might well be a matter that concerns you as well, as all matters will eventually concern you unless you would prefer not their weight shared?" That was something he'd need to find out. If he needed to protect her from such weight the more they became involved, that one day she might rule at his side as his Queen. Many would envy the title, wherein one wise would know the true weight of it. The responsibility that came with it in measure. The smile that lingered encompassed her nickname for him, it was a first and he found he liked it. "You will always have that liberty where I'm concern." That was how it should be. He took it for granted and his words would reassure her.

Her words at first were just a breath. "My, but there was a great deal of matter mentioned there, concerning the castle." She drew in a deep, quiet breath. Savina had been born to the clans. Been raised in the mountains and when the necessity arose, sought shelter and protection within their caves. Leoric must know that the thought of entering under the roof of a castle would be a daunting one. To adopt new ways to mix with the old ways and long for them to blend smoothly, completely. She was not being coy or naive when she stated she was frightened. She was wise in that trepidation. These were great changes that both of them would be making. "But you speak of a concern that involves me so it is right to share it with me, whether I prefer or not. I would never wish for you to keep anything from me that you can, or must, share for the sake of our future. The two of us, or Kildare." She shifted, removing her arm from against his so that she could better face him. "So please, if it matters, I should"

"Aye," amusement laced the smooth tone of his voice. Castle matters were something he had to get use to. Luckily he saw how his mother dealt with things and perhaps followed in her steps. He had also watched his older brother in how he dealt with things and in time found he too had such abilities and learned from him as well. "I am pleased," her words had pleased him for it only confirmed the path he was choosing that would include her in his life. Not only his life but that of Kildare. "I think you will like Corina," more mussed on an off beaten track of thought before he was right back to the meat of the matter. A hand lifted to trace back the strands that had loosen again along the side of her face. "At the recent Ball," which the next one he planned to take her, "there was a commotion that only a few became privy to. A possible uprising but it never got that far. The point more in being it was of an elusive, mountainous clan by the surname of Mullen. At least the chieftains. During a meeting with the Nobles of Kildare, Lord Daniel Remmington of Thornston implied that there was an old woman of mystical ways related to them." His hand falling away as there was no right or wrong answer to what he brought up but more the gaining knowledge so that he could deal fairly with the matter.

The recognition was in her eyes when he said the one clan name, Mullen. Pupils constricted then dilated back and she swallowed with a nod. "This old woman of mystical ways, is found, in these mountains, I suppose." She nodded, not needing him to answer that. "And you know this 'old' woman ... and she is related. I am, Leoric, the daughter of the chieftain Gibbs of the clan Mullen. I fled the mountains because of my father's authority over me and I took shelter in the caves. Later, when Keary found out of my powers, I used my caves to hide from her as well. Why would this Lord, this Daniel Remmington, think it important to mention his implication? I have no direct contact with the whole of them, much less the chieftains. They are my past - the mountains and the clans. You are my future - the castle and Kildare."

Of course he didn't need to answer that and her true form would not have anyone else knowing that she was indeed the old woman that had helped those of Kildare where and when she could. Only his brother might guess and he would not go telling anyone. She would know this when she met his identical twin. He actually looked forward to that day for her to see his mirror image. Although, with her, he knew she would know which was which as if he were completely different looking. She would know them each. A hand lifted to rub down over his face in a thoughtful gesture. It came to rest down upon hers as he took up her smaller hand in his. "If there is a peaceful way to resolve any issues, that is the one I will seek." He never actively initiated an attack on anyone. He only fought, and fought like the ancient he was, when there was no other way. "As far as Daniel Remmington, I have no idea other than he thought you might help us. I did not tell him I knew you but more of you which is common knowledge. This Daniel seems to be on the right side but I do not know him like I know James Callihan. I don't know Gillean Callihan that well as it stands for that matter." Which was just added in there. Time would prove their loyalty and worth for Kildare. "Keary put many in hiding," which was revealed and exposed during that time up to her death and even second death! "Would you know of any reason they would now, come down from their mountain as a warring clan against any of the Keeps near their domain?"

The fingers of one hand fiddled with the beaded cords wrapped around the other. "Leoric, we both know that a frightened animal will strike out where normally they would not. There has been talk about the new reign of Kildare. They know you not, nor your brother. They don't like what they don't understand, in fact, it scares them and the feuding within the clan between the brothers would be the perfect opportunity to use that fear. For all their internal fighting, Leoric, they are as a whole a peaceful people. It concerns me that they have lashed out in some way to any of the kindly folk here"

"Aye, it concerns me too. I have decisions to make. Do I wait and see if they strike out again as the first was more taunting than aimed to take a life." That was the only reason he was debating his choices out loud and with her. That should say volumes in his trust where she was concern, the respect, and how he was including her into his life for as much as she wished. "Or do I find someone, or myself, to move inside the clan and find out first hand where their minds are at?" He could pull off the illusion but there could be one within that might see him if they had some powers, perhaps not completely nonetheless. He was in a way asking her for she knew them best. He was not, however, asking her to go back there since she mentioned of her leaving. That he respected.

"Why not first ask to meet with the chieftains? If you are too wary to meet them in their clans, then bring them forth to the castle. Allow them to know the great men of Kildare are not ones to be feared...but to be respected. And still, they may refuse. For these men are stubborn and shrewd and can be extremely difficult." The eagle cried out over the landscape and for a moment, Savina's attention diverted there but soon was back on Leoric. "There is one, she is the offspring of my father. She possesses some ... abilities and she vibrates with evil intent. Be wary of her, Leoric, please, just in case?"

"Do you think they will come if I asked to meet?" It was another thought he had passed around and would have the Nobles there to meet them as well so they had all had faces and not just something out there. "Even so, I should put forth an invitation so it cannot be said that I didn't try to establish a mutual communication." Savina was making an excellent sounding board and far better than bouncing them off the walls of his thoughts. He gave a thoughtful nod to the last, "it would be a dangerous mission to send anyone on if they wanted to be very difficult," and send back the head of the messenger. "I may well go disguised as that messenger for at least I have abilities to keep me from dying at their hands." She had seen him turn and take an open rift doorway, or take on the form of something else. Disappear in essence.

A nod of agreement followed his discussion. His final decision caused her to sit up straighter, her chin lifting. "If you will go, Leoric, then I shall go with you. Even the messenger of a king will not be welcomed kindly without an envoy from within to have to answer for him. If you go, if any go, I will have to go. These are the Mountain clans and while they are of Kildare, their ways and their mindsets are steeped in their primal traditions." She released the hold on her charms to touch her fingertips lightly on his lower arm. "My father may not be pleased to see me at first, but, I was born as one of them, and none there would deny me my return."

"Then I shall go as your man. They need not know I am the King himself for this mission unless the discussion goes well and any titles be known. Or would that sour him against the idea of you having a man?" There was a slight quirk to his lips as he turned focus back on her. Eyes traced a loving trail over her features and if one were capable of touching without actual physical contact, Leo was capable. He was finding out quite a deal by various questions and suggestions that were having her help him in this effort. He knew that the surrey he requested would be down in the valley below waiting for him there very soon. The kingsmen would wait until he showed too. It was the best way of bringing her to the castle and he'd get to enjoy sitting next to her for the ride. There was also an escort of guards as would be proper too.

"He did wish for me to mate with my cousin." She tacked on to his suggestion, and shifted as she did so that she was on her knees before him. "Are you my man, Leoric, King of Kildare? For I know your title for this mission. And, to be wickedly honest, I do so hope it would sour the chieftain that I have such a fine man as you. Although..." And she sighed, shrugging a slender shoulder with dramatic flair. "It would probably be best if he thinks you an emissary for the crown rather than the wearer of it. But then...hmmm." She lifted a finger to her lips, in serious contemplation. "Since it is of such great importance, this matter of power between them, it could be better for them to know they are dealing with the King. Men of stature and all that. Unless that makes them defensive..." And there she went again, debating her own decisions. Savina, since the time she fled the clan and survived by her skills alone, had always been able to hone in on the correct course, the right way, the exact action. Her gaze did as his had and stroked along the features of his face. "You bumfuzzle me. Is this bad?"

"...with your cousin." That had to sink in for certainly it was a barbaric idea to him but he knew barbaric clans allowed such without a blink of an eye. He was watching her debate with herself but the shift of expressions coupled with the last had him laugh. "If you are bumfuzzled then certainly you have had the same effect on me. I am your man, there is no doubt in my mind that is so as well that you are my woman. Although time needs to play it out more but that is what I see, that is what I desire. I do not like a lie and so I will not go as one but neither do I need to tell my title unless asked. I prefer they judge me as the man I am than the title." Which sometimes gave one strange ideas and consequences. "But I would go as your man so there is no doubt on any of their parts in that and try to grab you for another man that might fit in with their hierarchy." Fingers slid to lace with hers as he then drew up to stand, guiding her with him. "There is a surrey that awaits us to bring us into Kildare, we can talk more on the way. A room has been prepared for you with various dresses and such to wear if you like. I wish to introduce you at dinner. You will get to meet my brother, his wife Corina, their two children, the ladies in waiting," who would end up significant to her in the future, "and my kingsmen." Whom she would meet when they arrived at the surrey. Once standing he leaned to take up her belongings and swung them it over the opposite shoulder.

She physically shivered with that idea of the very real possibility of such a confrontation. "There...will be initiations." She whispered, considering Leoric was not of the clan and coming in as an outsider, things would be demanded of him. Maybe he hadn't heard that softly spoken concern as he continued to speak of all the people, goodness, all the people that would be just at a dinner. "His wife..." She nodded slowly. "You mentioned Corina before." Together they started down the narrow path that led to the forest below. "I had wondered if she was the Lady of the Sword Arm." For with the prophecy of old, there was the Mystic and there was the Sword Arm. Together they would save Kildare. Together, they would keep it so. Deep breath again. It seemed she was doing that alot lately. "All right. And do watch your step, hoofless one." To be leaving her cave dwelling perhaps forever, her entire body almost vibrated with the excitement of perhaps walking into what would be her home..forever.

"Aye, initiations," considering what Leoric faced and dealt with in his short young life, he could do any initiation given by a clan. The light squeeze of her hand was to reassure her on that matter. "Is there any in particular I should be aware of, prepare for?" The path wound its way through the woods, flowers and beds of grass where they separated then back to the mulch layered over the years in fall. He was nodding in the affirmative for Corina and the title of his brother. "Our legacy has been a fulfillment of predictions by the wizard Thalan." Whom she might at least heard of. He kept her close so there would be no misstep for either of them. The trees gradually were becoming more sparse as the valley started to open up before them. Here there would be fewer trees and more fields.

"Mmmm." She nodded with that sound of the affirmative. "There is first and foremost, my Father...and his brothers, Anghus and Duncan. And then...there is Brevan and his wife...Lamia." And the discussion continued on from there between the two of them. So easily the time passed between them while they spoke of the clan, of his family, of her upbringing, of his history that before she realized they had reached the surrey, surrounded by those intimidating warriors of the King's. And soon, very soon, they would be ... Home.


Date: 06-02-12
Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 4

Trip to Kildare

The ride to Kildare castle didn't take too long and the ride enjoyable. Savina might not be use to such an escort but it was for the public's eye that did as a king should be.. guarded. His kingsmen were not of the ordinary and above the rest. Once the castle was within a half mile, Simon and Vincent rode ahead to inform the Regent that Leo would be arriving within ten minutes. They passed through the main town as many stopped what they were doing to bow, wave or salute as they passed. Some of the children tried running alongside to get a glimpse of the king and the one inside the carriage with him. Of course they couldn't really tell as the horsemen were on either side to keep anyone from actually making contact with the royal carriage. Only way they'd get to see is if Savina hung out the window! The castle became a flurry of activity as Simon and Vincent dismounted and headed within, their horses led away by the stable boys. Guards amassed near the front gate where the carriage would pass. Once there, the footman was down and around to see to the door and a hand for the lady but Leo was out and already had Savina's hand in his to help her as the footman bowed away. He would tuck her arm within his before escorting her within.

Corina made sure that her handmaid got hold of her when Leo was almost home. She handed off the little one to her nanny before she was on her way to join up with her husband, Gaidan. She preferred taking care of her children personally but certainly having a nanny for each of them came in handy when she was needed such as now. Her smile was bright and warm for him as she joined him in the Grand Room. A very spacious and comfortably equipped living area that could serve quite a few purposes.

The entire journey, Savina sat back against the cushion of the carriage bench, her legs tuck up beside her. She watched Leoric, without any attempt to hide that fact. She watched him until she heard the commotion outside. Only then did she reach over and press the curtain aside with the tips of her fingers. The conversation between them continued, even though she watched the people from that small slit of exposure. Once they arrived, she quieted, ever observant and mindful while Leoric escorted her, taking it all in, feeling it all out. Henna'ed and tokened, she would normally not be a guest of such a lofty place. It was all rather interesting, was it not? She at the King's side, escorted on his arm? She turned a look up to him, smiled, then entered with him into the castle. The Mountain and the Valley as one.

Thane stood off to the side of the hall, bowing to the King and the woman at his side as they passed. He cocked a look up to follow their progress once they were by him. Weren't the LiW going to have a grand time with this?!

Gaidan wasn't surprised that Leoric was bringing the mysterious Lady to meet them. How could he be when he and his brother were connected as they were? He smiled as Corina joined him, watching her until she was close then he leaned over and kissed her in a proper greeting between man and wife. That very pleasant task finished, he took hold of her hand and tucked it in the crook of his arm, his hand over hers. "You look lovely, Corina." Then he turned to watch the door.

Each kiss was as good as the last and she would never tire of her husband's kisses. They still curled her toes neatly tucked away in silk slippers. She updated him on Cailin Honeee as well Marcus Gaidan. She had yet to meet this mysterious old woman, considered a witch by some but Corina didn't, as she heard so much about her through the trials Kildare saw. With a comfortable smile upon her fair features she turned in wait, in a greeting to come, at her husband's side.

Leo could feel her every emotion for the touch they shared even if proper. Head held high but there was a new light in silver blue eyes. That light had a lot to do with the beautiful woman at his side. No longer the wizened old woman that one might count her years to be at least a hundred plus ten. No, Savina was an exquisite beauty but she had the beauty of soul that captured Leoric's heart. Some of the LiW would be slightly disappointed but not in a way that they would hold it against the woman Leo chose. Still, this was the first step and hopefully the following ones would advance as he hoped. The castle would be in whispers for days to come. Ones that would spread to the town and beyond within the hour they could safely bet. They continued straight to the Grand Room where he knew his brother and sister in law would be waiting along with refreshments.

Vincent had taken up his post aside the door leading into the Grand Room. There was just a hint of a smile as he knew, as he had been, those within were in for a surprise too. A knowing look shifted briefly upon Thane, Jael and Simon before saluting his king with a fisted hand over his heart, given thrice, as he and Savina passed.

Leo slightly dipped his head when passing his knights in acknowledgement before they were within the room and approaching Gaidan and Corina. "Gaidan, Corina, I would like you to meet Savina." Not one to beat around the bush as surely this woman was not what they might have expected and rightly so. "Savina has come to stay with us for we plan to marry within the year." That was what was hoped. So, there was not one surprise but two. Something that had been a very long time in coming.

These walls could talk and at the moment they were buzzing with information, all of which silenced immediately as Leoric spoke. Easing her hand from his arm, she dipped into a deep curtsy before the Regent and his Ladywife with the respect due to the Swordarm of Kildare's resurrection. The thin braids that mingled with the thick locks fell forward over her shoulders when her head bowed. But it was Leoric's year announcement that had her turning her gaze up to him, and slowly straightening without the permission to do so and shifting her eyes just as quickly over to the two opposite them.

Gaidan was surprised to see the young woman who entered the room with his brother and he looked down at Corina briefly to see if she too, showed surprise. He recovered quickly and smiled back at Savina, though again, Leoric's announcement caught him by surprise. How had his twin decided so quickly? Again, he recovered as he spoke to Savina. "Welcome, Savina. To Kildare and into our family, it seems." He looked at Leoric then his gaze went back to the woman who seemed as surprised as he!

Corina was not royal born but she held a royal way about her. Learned a lot after she came to Kildare as Gaidan's wife. He was her snow prince, long before she knew he was a prince and she was his snow angel, allowing her to fall in love before she knew he was titled. Her smile was bright as she stepped forward to welcome Savina as a soon to be sister. Taking up her hands as she teased with ease, "I thought he was bringing home a much older woman," green eyes held a certain light to them, "but he brought home Cinderella and now we will not need to hold a ball to find him one." She didn't look Leoric's way but he'd see that imp's curl at the corners of her lips. "I dare say there will be many a heart broken but then," although Leo didn't have an entourage nor led a single heart on, "I am so pleased he has found one to fill his heart." She placed a light kiss to Savina's cheek before releasing her hands as she stepped back. She was welcoming her in as a sister would.

Leo held his brother's eyes. There was little between them left unknown so it was a day to remember that he could surprise him, surprise him two fold. There was a slight dip of his head and any tension eased with Corina's welcome especially. "I would like to refresh," which meant to wash up some and change his clothes, "and meet back here to have something to eat. We have a matter of the Mullen clan to discuss." So, there was yet another side to all of this as would come out once they sat to talk. He would escort Savina to the room she would be staying in, one not far from his, if she too wished to refresh herself. She would have the ladies in waiting as well a few handmaids to see she had everything she needed. This part might be hard to get use to!

Savina practically clung to Corina's hands as they captured her own. She leaned in when the woman placed a kiss to her cheek and whispered before their hands were released. "Appearance is but a mind's game for the eyes, M'Lady." She too turned her face ever so slightly to touch her lips to Corina's cheek, then looked over to Gaidan. "My thanks, Your Grace." Her hand slipped back underneath Leoric's arm and her eyes drifted up to him again. "I would wish to do the same, Leoric, before we discuss The Clan."

Surprised? Gaidan was more in shock. He just met Leoric's gaze, barely keeping his expression near blank, though Corina had him smiling again. "Of course. I trust there was no trouble on the trip back?" Not with the knights with them. He looked at Corina again. "Shall we retire to our rooms until they're ready?" The company of their children was always a balm to Gaidan's spirit.

Savina looked back to Gaidan, tilting her head a little before she decided to confess. "The caused my legs to backside to become sore." That said, she smiled. For it was the truth of it...and the man had asked after all.

"Of course, Marcus has been asking for you since breaking fast," which they all did together. Turning her attention back to mostly Savina, for she was their guest, more than a guest, "I will bring them down briefly so you can meet them." Especially Marcus who, although only three, was a precocious child going on thirty. Tucking her arm upon Gaidan's, they would leave as brother and Savina made their way out. Oh, she was smiling even more for Savina's comment of the carriage ride.

He couldn't help laughing hearing her retort to Gaidan for they were not as stuffy as being King and Regent would have them. "I will have to see about having extra cushions installed." Giving Savina a wink as his hand came to rest over hers as she tucked it within the crock of his arm. The staff would make sure everything was ready by the time they returned. Her room was picked for not only the colors of a muted yellow, green and browns, its spaciousness but mostly for the high windows that gave a view of her mountains on one side and the rolling green valley and port to another side. Here he would leave her to the attentiveness of the ladies in waiting, who were already waiting for her there. Leo knew she was in good hands as he gave a slight bow of his head, the smile that was even more in his eyes than upon his lips before excusing himself to his chambers.

The perfect view, for the perfect evening...for what may be the rest of her life. No manner of scrubbing by the ladies would erase the tattoos so long applied to Savina's skin. Just as well, she'd feel naked and vulnerable without them. That aside, once those ladies were confident in their work, and that Savina presented a true and noble Lady of Kildare, it was at that window that Savina awaited the summons to return to the King's side. Looking out over Kildare. Looking out over Kildare's future.

The time with the children would be well spent, though as he sat on the floor with their son, Gaidan finally spoke. "What do you think of all this, Corina? Is it possible for Leoric to fall so quickly for a woman he barely knows?" It was a legitimate concern in his eyes. His brother was King and if Gaidan had the slightest concern that the elder twin had been bewitched, it better be addressed now.

She came to sit in the rocking chair near her husband, holding Cailin in her arms. "You have such abilities as well, do any alarms go off? Certainly one can fall in love at first sight but it is rare. We did." Which was true, that night had been magical that wove its spell around them. "He said a year's time. I'm sure if she is not what she presents herself to be then we shall know." She reached a hand to touch his shoulder as he sat on the floor with Marcus. It was also a warning that little ears were listening! Such a child might say something! "I like her already," as she gave her son a wink.

Meanwhile Leo was bathing and then changing into informal clothes, although some would say they were informal, they were well made. He was anxious to get back downstairs for a few reasons. He was really hoping his brother and Corina would like Savina. What was there not to like? He was back down even before they arrived as he stood by the window having a glass of the pure on ice. Word being sent that the King was down in the Grand Room.

Word arrived and Savina slid her hands along her sides, smoothing down the fabric of the fine dress she wore. It was time. Time to discuss how she fit so uncomfortably into the puzzle of Clan Mullen. Would this turn the Regent and his Lady forever against her? She attempted not to send out that thread of wonder, not wishing to know, afraid she may actually touch upon some truths about her own future that had always been denied her in the past. She walked with the guard sent to bring her below, not speaking to him other than to thank him when their paths parted and she entered the room. Leoric. Alone. She actually breathed out a sigh of relief and hurried over to him, heavy skirts swishing at her quick movement. "Oh Great White One...I am a bit...overwhelmed." She didn't wait for him to gather her up, but slid in beside him, a slender arm snaking around his back so that she fit herself to the strength of his side. It was good that his drink was held in that other hand.

"No, no alarms." Gaidan wanted to say more but he just nodded, then smiled at Marcus. He chuckled at the lad's antics then when it was time to go, stood. There was much for him to worry about, and it was due to the past he and his twin shared. With a promise to Marcus to come into his room after he was done speaking with Uncle Leoric, he once again offered Corina his arm. They shouldn't keep his brother and the Lady waiting.

Leo knew the moment she approached from the hall, turning as she rushed over to him, a smile starting up already. "I know it is all so new but in time you'll be just fine." So he hoped, so he felt as he leaned down to touch his lips upon hers. Nothing overly for anyone could walk in on them but it was to give her some comfort. Lips parting as he offered her his drink, "take some of this." Certainly the Pure was a salve for many an ailment or to calm the nerves. They would be found, nonetheless, his arm about her as they stood by the window.

The two Nannies would come with them, respectfully behind the royal couple. Corina carrying Cailin and Marcus walking aside his father like a little man. Blond hair and blue eyes too. It wasn't until the last moments, as they reached the door, that little hand slid up to capture his father's. Corina was smiling as they entered the room to see the two so together.. not like some kind of arrangement of old. "Here we are, my little Cailin and Master Marcus." Approaching as Corina held the sleeping princess in a way that she could be seen. Marcus on the other hand dropped his hand from his fathers to give a bow. He did a good job of it too.

She did as she was told, taking the glass and drinking down the liquid, not knowing what it was or what it would do. And..she was dying! She started coughing, her throat was on fire, her lungs were aflame. She buried her face in Leoric's side, handing up the glass back to him, as she continued to choke and wheeze. She had just managed to draw her first clear breath when the family entered, and she looked their way with her eyes watering. She blinked away the tears, watching them approach. Savina had been secluded for more years than she was with the clan. Hers was not a life of interaction with small ones. She tightened her hold on Leoric but then drew in a deep breath. Both to clear her lungs and head as well as to bolster the courage to interact. Especially with children. Strange, though, when she looked upon the babe, her heart swelled with joy. So innocent. So vulnerable So ... beautiful. Savina forced her gaze from the baby to the mother. "My Lady, she angel come to earth." The boy's bow drew her gaze and she couldn't help but smile, easing her arm from around Leoric's back in order to dip into a proper response to so gallant a gesture. "An honor, Master Marcus. I am Savina." As she straightened, she raised her gaze to Gaidan, her eyes lingering in that contact with his. She was a witch. That was no secret. She had fought a common foe along with the brothers. That was no secret. But who she was, who she really was, remained as a secret to the Regent. But soon...that also would no longer be so. He was already skeptical of her, it was there in the depths of his gaze. She struggled to accept that caution as justified. In her own caution against Keary, she had disguised herself, and in that way, presented a lie. Tonight, she stood before him as the daughter of the chieftain responsible for attacks upon his lands. Caution was just. That didn't mean it didn't cut deep and sting. did. You shall be content and happy, Savinell. With those words as her strength, she centered herself for whatever the future may hold. She dipped her head to Gaidan and pulled her gaze away, turning once more to the only man she truly needed to trust her.

Gaidan watched Savina then lowered his eyes to Marcus as the boy drew away his hand. His smile was filled with pride and warmth for the small lad. "I am... " All those words he had learned just went out of the lad's head. He giggled then smiled wide. "Hello, Lady Savina. You're pretty." And with that, he hid his face against his father's leg. Gaidan laughed and ruffled his son's hair. It would all come in time. "Well done, Marcus." He said in a low voice and the boy peeked out at Savina again. He met Savina's gaze calmly, with no fear or hesitation, then nodded as well. Gaidan would come to know the truth in time, and perhaps his feelings, his caution, would change.

It was better her husband was cautious, a kingdom could suffer otherwise but Corina had more faith than doubt. Then again she had a whole different background than the brothers. She was pleased Savina was drawn to the two little ones. "She is an angel and far less fussy than her brother at her age." Giving a wink to Marcus as she complimented him in turn, "well done. Your bow has very much improved." Which she knew he had been working on. The nannies were alert to step up to take the sleeping child as well Marcus in hand, "we will see you both in a short while and a story before you sleep." It was a routine that was important. From this point, she would be more the spectator, listening and watching. Only if asked would she add her thoughts.

Leo had not been expecting Savina to drink it down like it was water. Although it was clear. He'd have to keep an eye on her in case it affected over the next hour. Never knew when one had abilities beyond the norm. Some it didn't affect at all while others, it could knock them out cold. He was very pleased with the next interactions, small children, and his brother. Still, he was concern for her drinking down the potcheen like that, "shall we have something to eat," it would be a light fare being dinner would be served in a few more hours. A gesture of hand to the cozy arrangement of seats in front of a large fireplace. One that only had smoldering peat burning in it. Something of old, something of Eire. The fare was set out on a long coffee table that they could pick at while they ate. He escorted her over and would take up the seat next to hers. Being he was sitting, if they bother with protocol, they could all sit.

She, like Corina, would remain silent until her input was needed. A wiggle of fingers in goodnight to the lad. Goodness. At the moment, she was just happy to sit down. Just a little light headed...yes...a chair.

Gaidan escorted Corina to the chairs after he kissed Marcus and Cailin good night. He still couldn't believe at times that he was so amazingly lucky. He smiled at Corina as she sat, then settled beside her. A light meal would be welcome, though he wasn't as hungry as usual. Too many surprises today.

Leo didn't bring up anything right off, no, it was better to get something in their stomachs, especially Savina. Once they had enough to eat, passing plates and so on, trying this or that in a family sort of way, comments made on how good it was and so on, Leo finally opened up the can of worms so to say. "Savina knows much about the Mullen clan." Giving her the window that she would tell her side of it. He still wondered how Daniel knew enough about Savina. Man seemed to have his fingers in a few pies. That could be good.. or bad. He made sure Savina had either the juice or water that was offered until it was discovered if she could hold such liquor as the pure. It should relax her no matter.

Yes, the food was helping. The weight of it in her stomach balanced out the liquid but that still didn't keep her from blinking slowly, then dragging a look in Leoric's direction. She swallowed, setting her glass back to the surface of table and softly clearing her throat. "They are...My clan." Her chin lifted, and her gaze traveled across the table to rest right on Gaidan's.

Gaidan enjoyed the meal, even relaxing enough to forget his suspicions for a time. He was in the process of lifting his glass when Leoric spoke. It hovered above the table for just a breath, then he lifted it for a needed drink. "So, you can tell us why they seem to be hostile. Or," and he paused as the glass was placed on the table again. "Have you not been in contact with them?" She lived in a cave, away from people. He had to wonder if it was connected to her talents. Again, he showed no hostility, only curiosity but she would no doubt know his reasoning, as would his brother.

He understood very well as he sat back with his drink. A touch of his free hand along her back would show his support. He knew the answers, his brother did not and it was better for Savina to tell him in her own words. So in this, he remained quiet. Silver blue eyes touched upon his brother as he'd understand why he no longer 'jumped' in.

And so, she repeated what she had shared with Leoric. Her relationship to the Chieftain. Her reasons for seeking refuge and remaining as the old lady of the mountain. Her secret visits to her mother. "It is possible, Your Grace, as I explained to Leoric." Her arm crossed in front of her waist, her hand reaching around behind her to touch her fingertips to his. "That the brothers are using the fear of the unknown, the new leaders of Kildare, to instigate an uprising to weaken Gibb's authority." Her shoulders tensed as she prepared to continue. "And then...there is Lamia."

Gaidan listened intently, his shoulders tensing slightly. They would have to tread carefully. If Gibb could be persuaded to ally with Kildare and Leoric, war could be averted. "Who is Lamia?" Was this person a threat alone, or connected to the clan. "And how does she come into what is happening?" He was guessing that Lamia was a she.

Savina didn't hesitate. Perhaps it was the liquid courage. More than likely, she wouldn't have anyway. "Lamia is the wife of Bevan, who is the son of Duncan.. She is also, most importantly, my half-sister. When I fled the clan, she was beginning to exercise her ... powers. My mother has confided in me that the woman has become quite efficient with her skills. I am not her favorite sibling. not mine. In fact, I claim her not at all as blood and she would rather spill mine than do the same."


Date: 06-03-12
Poster: Savina Mullen
Post # 5


"Is it possible that she is somehow behind all this? Her husband would become Chieftain if all three brothers were killed, would he not?" Bevan should in any case, but if the brothers were fighting over leadership of the Clan, that could explain much. He glanced at Corina and gave her a wink before looking back to Savina. He wanted to trust her but his brother, his wife and their children were far too important for him to take that chance.

Savina drew in a soft breath, slow and centering, before she nodded to Leoric's words, still looking over to Gaidan. "I am sorry, Your Grace, but I am sorely without answers for you. My pride and stubbornness delivered me from the clan and the same kept me sequestered from this information you seek. I am certain my gentle mother probably knows nothing regarding the warring affairs of men, and she has been my only contact within the clan since my disappearance." A look flickered over to Leo and then back to Gaidan. "I am without sight when it comes to matters which involve me intimately. It is as when you are deeply within the forest, you can no longer see what lies around it. I am .... blinded."

Leo's fingers entwined with hers, an unconscious thought and one of encouragement. Focus was completely on the words between her and Gaidan, meeting his eyes when he looked his way. "We are planning to go there, Savina and I, to meet with her father and see if we can nip this in the bud. They will not know who I am but neither will I hide it, if it can make a good difference. I will come as her suitor who should ask the permission of her father." That would be the platform for this daring act, "without my guards."

"Without your guards? Or your knights? Leoric, that's madness. I know you are capable of many things, and I'm certain you are as well, my Lady, but to walk in there blindly ... Even you can be killed, my brother." He stood and walked to the window. Even Savina didn't know what would happen. How could she? "But I know that once you make up your mind, there will be no talking you out of this." He took a deep breath but didn't look back. Instead he stared out over the city.

He knew he was capable of opening a door that none could see and moving through it, disappearing from their sight, to come out at another area unharmed. Still, he didn't have it down like his brother Andrew could. "It has to be done." Rubbing his chin with his free hand as he pondered this. He was a King now, responsible for more than himself. "I will not ask you to go with us." That was a definite in case, ever, anything happened to him, Gaidan would have to take on his responsibility, his mantel. "I could bring the knights as my brothers as a family would do going into such clan territory." They were his brothers if not by blood.

Fingers tightened within Leoric's hold as Gaidan got up and paced away and she looked between the brothers. "Have you another way, Your Grace? Some way that would not enrage the clans into actions they perhaps would not have considered previously or that may not endanger our King? It is a different and dangerous life these people of the mountain lead. And for the most part, they squabble between themselves with no external ripples. But when the
circles spread out further than where the stone had dropped, there is more to be considered. My sire is bullheaded. His brothers the same." Her free hand lifted to flutter fingertips lightly to her chest. "It is a family trait. But they would never push further than their own borders unless instigated. It is important, if you wish not to wipe them from Kildare's future, to find out what it is that has caused their unease."

Corina really hoped they could come to some fair means to address this situation. She was over to stand by her husband's side a hand coming to touch upon his arm. The touch said what words did not. The concern there in her eyes for them both. For Savina, for the good of Kildare for that matter.

Yes, Leoric was king and Gaidan preferred that it remain that way, but that didn't mean he had to like it when Leoric put himself in danger. "No, my Lady, I have no other way." He smiled down at Corina, placing his hand over hers. "I wish I did but Leoric has always been the diplomat, the one who knows the right words to speak. However, that doesn't mean I'm at ease with this plan." He turned to look at Leoric after moving his hand from Corina's, immediately
reaching to intertwine his fingers with hers. She gave him strength with her quiet, gentle ways. "And if I were to go with you, that would reveal who you are far sooner then you wish. But it's still madness." At one time, he might have urged Leoric to wipe the whole clan out but things had changed. Gaidan had changed. Except, he understood very well that trait of being bullheaded.

"Aye, it is madness but mankind has always been full of madness. Risks are always taken to offset that madness in the hope that sanity can be gained. I have a feeling the only one sane in that whole clan is her father Gibb. If he loses power for the power play going down, the incident at the fort being proof of this, then we will have a war on our hands. My duty is to my people, even if it puts my life on the line. I know I can be killed but I also know I have a far better chance than anyone in these lands not to be, even in the worse scenario. I know I can get both myself and Savina out of there. But, If we don't try then the chances of war are far greater and she will most likely lose her father before the two can make amends." Which was not something he had mentioned to Savina, his thoughts there that such was possible. If her mother was able to keep seeing her, then he suspected that the father knew. If the father knew and didn't stop her, he wanted connection still.

She didn't say anything, especially since Leoric had mentioned a reconciliation between her and her father. She could have argued. Made a case against such a reunion. But this night truly was not about her. It was about Kildare and the clan that still had not accepted the new reign. She sat in silence for a little longer, then let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. "Leoric, I know not how sane Gibb is, if at all, but he is the clan head and so, at the moment, the one with the most influence. But please do not overlook the shadows for the sun. I can tell you both this. Lamia is a force that, if not now, soon will need be reckoned with. I speak this not out of my dislike for her, but for what causes me to distrust her."

"I disagree with what is your duty, Leoric. You should stay alive to guide our people, to lead them." He smiled slightly and shrugged. It was as he had said earlier. Leoric had made the decision to go. "No matter what you do, it could still lead to war. And it will ease my mind if you do take the knights with you." He looked at Savina and frowned. "She may try to stop you both from speaking to Gibb. If that's the case, we may be dealing with her very soon." If things became too unstable, he would ask Corina to take the children to Heathfield.

"In all due respect, Your Grace. With the attack on Swan Lake, we may be dealing with her already." She stroked her fingertips over the top of Leoric's hand where he continued that firm hold.

"We do not need another Keary in the making. Far better to nip this before it becomes a real problem." He'd been thinking the whole while they discussed this. "We can go in and at the first sign of trouble, I will send up a flare that my awaiting army can then ride in." With the growing numbers since a few battles, it had become very impressive indeed. "If they want a show of force, then they shall have it." He was not going to become a weak king and hide within the castle walls while men and women died for him. That was not an option either, although he didn't want to die either.

Talk of armies and battles and required force as well as Keary caused Savina to pale. "May that not be the case." She whispered out a breath of concern, barely more than a movement of lips, and from then she bowed her head and remained silent.

No one expected Leoric to hide. He looked at Savina then at Corina before he looked at his Twin.. "In the end, the choice is yours, Leoric. An army can wait beyond the territory the Clan claims. If you can escape, along with Savina and your knights, we will be awaiting your orders. If you cannot, we will ride in as well." He looked away a moment, composing himself. "My concern is always your safety, and that of my family. Our family, since we cannot exclude Savina since you intend to court her. If I thought I could drug you and go in your stead, I would. But since I'm the handsome one, they would know I'm not you." He was relaxing enough to include that old joke. Somehow this would turn out right.

Which had Leo laugh outright. "Mother always liked you best.." moving to stand as he kept Savina's hand in his. There was time before dinner. "This matter can be discussed with our knights later and see if any have other ideas. We should not go in unprepared." They were starting to make those very preparations, "but for now, I think I shall show Savina the grounds, gardens and various rooms of the castle. We shall then dine and later talk with the knights." Savina and Corina would both be in these talks for what affected Kildare, affected them. He didn't hold to the 'women not allowed' theory.


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